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Anytime I'm on an airliner, I want my pilot looking at the current situation and making a real-time, informed decision, not picking his course of action on what happened one, two, or five years ago. Bottom line: Whatever the situation in which you find yourself, the appropriate questions are, "Can I handle this, or can't I? Is this what I want, or not?" If you're at the mercy of a tape, you simply do not have that dialogue with yourself. Instead, your prerecorded reaction to that situation dictates its outcome. It becomes a knee-jerk reaction. You must keep expectations front and center in your mind as much as possible. As the Greek philosopher Aristotle recognized, people become what they do habitually. Studies show that if you do something for twenty consecutive days, and you commit your mind to do it each and every day throughout the day, then after twenty days it becomes a habit. If you want to stop biting your nails, for example, then create a reminder and put it in a place where you will see it. If you tend to bite your nails when your job gets stressful, then make a note and put it on your desk. Keep a calendar handy so you can count down to twenty days. By then, your healthy habit should be ingrained in you: no biting your nails! Having a goal and a game plan are the first steps to making your dreams happen. Effort and action are essential to making your aspirations real. In fact, effort is the key to everything when you take action. Einstein said, "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." Having a good idea is only the beginning. You have to take action, and you have to make a consistent effort on a regular basis in order to bring your expectations to fruition. If you take a little time and complete these steps, then I believe you will start to feel and think in a more positive way about yourself. Brainstorm, reflect, and concentrate your body, mind, and spirit on what you hope to achieve. Finding your true passion and pursuing it with all your heart is the path to fulfillment, meaning, and happiness.

The most important element of the gathering is its consistency; rain or shine, the kibbutz appears on our calendars every other week--same time, same place. There's no back-and-forth emailing to hammer out logistics. To keep it even simpler, each couple brings their own food so there's no prep or cleanup. If one couple can't make it, no big deal; the kibbutz goes ahead as planned. The gathering lasts about two hours, and I always leave with new ideas and insights. Most important, I feel closer to my friends. Given the importance of close relationships, it's essential we plan ahead. Knowing there is time set aside for the kibbutz ensures it happens. No matter what kind of activity fulfills your need for friendship, it's essential to make time on your calendar for it. The time we spend with our friends isn't just pleasurable--it's an investment in our future health and well-being. Approximately half of those who suffer from depression also suffer from anxiety at the same time. This adds a great burden to the weight of feeling depressed. Anxiety is a condition where you feel excessive apprehension, nervousness, and worry about several events or activities. It is often accompanied by feeling restless or shaky, with difficulty concentrating, irritability, and disturbed sleep. The intensity, duration, and frequency of the anxiety or worry is out of proportion to the actual feared event and causes distress. The fear feels very real and scary at the time. You may feel nervous, jittery, worried, and sweaty, with your heart racing or skipping a beat, an upset stomach, and muscle aches. People experiencing severe anxiety symptoms often go to the Emergency Department for fear that something physical is wrong. The good news is that many treatments for mood disorders, including those mentioned in this book, are also effective for treating anxiety. Mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder still carry a stigma, even in the year 2012.

A stigma arises when some people judge you because of your illness and then label you with a negative stereotype or image. Some people believe that it is socially unacceptable to have a mood disorder. They may try to make you feel ashamed or disgraced because of your illness. Some people may believe you are incompetent, potentially dangerous, weak in character, or undesirable just because of your illness. They will be judgmental and critical of you. But they are mistaken! Their beliefs are absolutely not true! There is nothing unacceptable about having a biologically based condition such as depression or bipolar disorder (or diabetes or heart disease, for that matter). Unfortunately, many people are not informed about mood disorders as an illness, and they believe in the stigma. They may try to force their inaccurate beliefs and attitudes on you. Ill-informed beliefs and judgments may come from your friends, family, or strangers who just don't know any better. Remember that their misinformation is driving this behavior--it is not a reflection of you. Having an illness with a stigma attached is an additional burden for you to carry on top of the depression symptoms you already feel. Having to deal with others' inaccurate reactions to and criticism of your illness can magnify the suffering you experience. You may feel you are constantly choosing whether to feel hurt, and deal with that, or correct their misinformation, if you feel you have the mental energy to do so. When others attach a stigma to your illness, it can put a strain on your relationship with them at home, at work, or in social situations. Often, you need to step back and understand that you may never be able to turn around the other person's thinking no matter how hard you try. Consider what you know about the person--the source of their distorted beliefs--and try to ignore the comments of those whose opinion you cannot change. What about our leaders? Does it trouble you to learn that the actions of one of our presidents, arguably the most powerful person in the world, were guided by astrology?

As noted earlier, and as reported by Donald Regan, White House chief of staff for President Reagan, "every major move and decision the Reagan's made during [his] time as White House Chief of Staff was cleared in advance with a woman in San Francisco who drew up horoscopes to make certain that the planets were in a favorable alignment for the enterprise."9 It probably shouldn't be too surprising, since an American living in the twenty-first century is more likely to take astrology seriously than a person who lived during the Middle Ages.10 We live in an era that has witnessed a rise of so-called New Age thinking, which rejects much of western science, and has given us "channelers" who speak with the dead, crystals possessing the power to heal, and the books (and lives) of Shirley McLaine (more than eight million sold). Influential writers are also not immune to believing weird things. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the celebrated author of the Sherlock Holmes series, created a character known for his ability to solve crimes by using a superior capacity for reason and logic. You might expect that the creator of such a rational character would value critical thinking above all else. However, Sir Arthur also believed in fairies. In 1917 and 1920 two girls from Cottingley, England, took five photographs of fairies that, they claimed, played with them. When Doyle saw the pictures, he became convinced that fairies actually exist. Years later the girls admitted that the pictures were a hoax--the fairies were simply cut out from a children's book. I will never have a good experience; my family was so dysfunctional, we never learned how to have fun. I am so ugly; my body and face are so different from those of the popular people that I will have to settle for third class. My future will be like my past: unlucky and nonproductive. I should never expect to be successful, because it is not my destiny. I have done some bad things and I will never be forgiven. Guilt is just my cross to bear. People will always disappoint me and hurt me. I was abused as a child. All men will use me for what they want and be insensitive to how I feel. My family was low class. I will be low class. There is nothing I can do to change that.

My father was a loser; I will be a loser, regardless of what happens. I am a leader. People look to me to be strong and set an example. I must never show my weakness. I must be strong, never showing my real self, for the rest of my life. Laziness is a sin, so I should never relax. I am not worthy of people's respect and consideration. One or more of these tapes, or some version of them, may be at work in your life. I encourage you, as we go forward, to start thinking about what your own tapes include. How do you mold these ideas and make them work for you in your everyday life? First, you need to harness consciousness and self-awareness. The two are overlapping, but they can be distinguished conceptually. Consciousness entails your ability to introspect and to focus your mental energies. For example, you use consciousness to examine your wants, needs, and desires, as well as what you want to accomplish out of life and what your goals are. It can take real in-depth thinking to bring your passions and goals to the forefront of consciousness. Once you do so, however, you can begin to move forward. On the other hand, self-awareness is about the attentiveness you have while interacting with people and examining yourself. When you become self-aware and more cognizant of your surroundings, then you start to process the world differently. All of this is about how you process things and react to them, including what motivates you and drives you forward. This raises the subject of emotional intelligence.